Maximum Penalty under PA Law for Animal Cruelty

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For anyone who may not know me, my name is Lia (Rozinsky) Merritt.  I am starting this change.org petition as a direct result of an inhumane event that recently took place against a helpless animal, who wasn’t just a dog, but was FAMILY. My heart is absolutely broken and after reading this, yours will be too... 

I understand that everyone’s pet is a part of their family, I myself grew up around animals.  I currently have two cats that I would do anything for, because they mean so much to me.  I love all animals, it runs in the family.  While I could go on and on, I will do the best I can to make you understand, as a supporter, the grief and heartache that has impacted my family and that has also resurfaced unsettling emotions once again, due to this unimaginable death.

It feels like yesterday, that I hung up the phone and fell to the floor as I tried to grasp the context of the conversation that just took place. I remember continually repeating in my head, "she's gone, she's gone, she's gone" and not being able to accept the truth.  It didn’t feel real, it still doesn’t. It's been over 4 years now that my cousin, Sara Zellem, lost her life due to a fatal overdose at only 21 years of age.  We all struggled to grasp the reality of the situation but we all came together for support and grew even closer than we were before. My Grandmother had passed away only a month before Sara so the devastation that surrounded all of us was and still is indescribable. We all felt lost, but luckily we were able to turn to each other.  Sara was and is loved by so many and will never be forgotten.  Sara left behind her Mom - Linda (Rozinsky) Zellem, Sister - Sadie Zellem, many friends, aunts, uncles, cousins and Ava, her dog. 

Ava was the sweetest girl and had a giant heart.  With her new role as caretaker, she embraced Linda and Sadie with lots of kisses and undeniable love. Ava was persistent and MADE you like her, even if you weren’t a dog person. She wouldn’t take no for an answer and when you saw her, you wouldn't say no to her anyways. Ava was full of energy! She loved being outside, running, jumping, playing, car rides and her little buddy Lucy (her wiener-dog sister).  Ava could put a smile on your face at any moment.  Ava’s carefree and friendly attitude resembled Sara so much, that it often felt as though Sara was watching over you when Ava was present.  Ava was more than just a dog, she was a companion and a confidante.  Ave would listen to all of your secrets,she would wipe away all of your tears and she made you feel safe.  Ava bought life back to Linda and Sadie more than anyone will ever know.  I saw it firsthand.  Ava was special to EVERYONE, especially Linda and Sadie, because that was the last little piece of Sara that they had left. And they loved her as she loved them, unconditionally.  She was and is irreplaceable.

On Saturday - July, 28, 2018, Stephen Michael Zellem, age 58 (Sadie's Uncle - Yes - her Uncle) walked onto Linda and Sadie's property and shot Ava point blank in the face with a shotgun, a mere 30 feet away from Linda, due to an alleged altercation with his mother's outdoor cat.  To Linda and Sadie's knowledge, Ava was laying under a tree in their front yard all morning while Linda was mowing the grass. Stephen Michael Zellem took it upon himself to leave his mother's house, drive to his house and grab a shotgun, come back to Linda and Sadie's property, walk through their yard and KILL Ava.  This is pure evil and undeniable hatred.  As Ava tried to run towards safety, helpless and scared, he continued shooting at her ripping right through her front right leg tearing it off. While Linda called the police, Sadie rushed to Ava's side, comforting her until she was able to get Ava to the vet.  Through it all Ava was still alive, despite her jaw and leg being blown off.  As the vet attempted to do all that was able to done in order to save Ava's life, she had to be put to sleep.  Sadie rubbed Ava's head for the very last time and saw one last wag of Ava's tail and with that, Ava was gone.

Stephen Michael Zellem did not see or hear the supposed altercation and was unable to provide the police with any evidence of the alleged attack on his mother's cat. This was also not the first time he had shot at Ava, it had happened before and he has also threatened the lives of other pets in the area as well.  This act of cruelty stems from much more and has been going on for years.  It was personal and Ava was the victim.

Stephen Michael Zellem is a MONSTER.  I urge you to spread the word of his vicious outrage.  I beg you to sign this petition that I have created to let the Somerset County District Attorney know that this man needs to be held accountable for his actions.  He deserves the maximum penalty allowed by PA Law for his heinous crimes.  Do not give Stephen Michael Zellem the chance to walk free without suffering the consequences. No animal deserves this, no family deserves this, nobody deserves this... EVER. Together, let's stop him now before he kills again.  If he is given another chance and not punished as he should be, who knows what he will do next.  

JUSTICE must be served and I am hoping that with everyone's help and support,  that we can make a difference and show the Somerset County District Attorney that his punishment for these actions need to be pursued to the fullest extent.  With your help we can put this man away and stop him from hurting anyone else.  

PLEASE sign the petition and PLEASE share!!!!!!

*Pictured are Sara and Ava - I know they are now reunited again. I'm not asking you to sign this petition for me, I'm asking you to do it for them!*



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